An Evergreen Delight

BY Taylor Rebhan

Daylight Factory and Shinola’s holiday installation collaboration elevates upcycling to a new art form.

Centuries before Christmas celebrations as we know them today appeared, evergreen trees served as symbolic decorations. Standing tall, verdant, and regal even through the cold and difficult winter, spruce, pine, and fir trees were crafted into decorative boughs that represented hope and fortitude.

Germanic and Celtic traditions are credited with inspiring the modern Christmas tree, as people brought evergreens into their home and began trimming them with everything from marzipan cookies to candles. Today, it’s almost impossible to imagine the holiday season without these sparkling boughs.

But chances are, you’ve never seen one quite like this before.


Working with Detroit-based Daylight Factory, the Shinola team dreamed up a way to use another natural resource—leather—in a beautifully crafted new way.

By repurposing “liability leather,” or excess leather from past seasons’ goods, the team is able to give a second life to these high-quality materials. It’s a mark of a commitment to sustainability coming to life through creativity.

The trees, which can be seen in window displays from Detroit to D.C. to Boston, are gorgeously layered in uniquely curated color stories originating from Shinola’s seasonal color palettes.

Shades include festive green, vibrant raspberry, blazing copper, cozy neutral, regal golden, and frosted blue—and the creation of each is rooted in Detroit.


To create these stunning pieces, Shinola turned to our long-time partner Daylight Factory—established right here in Detroit.

Daylight Factory embodies the work and services of Darrin Brouhard, a designer, craftsman and educator. Brouhard is emphatic in his gratitude for the mentorship and support of many members of the creative community in Detroit and abroad. One beloved mentor and friend in particular, Lincoln Wolfe, sparked the inspiration for what eventually became Daylight Factory.

Brouhard met Wolfe, then a consultant, while working on the leather team at Shinola. After years of friendship rooted in the craft of leather, Wolfe took ill. Shortly before he passed, Wolfe invited Brouhard to New Jersey to collect the leather working equipment that he had inherited when his former employer Coach moved their manufacturing overseas in the mid-nineties. This immense gift was a sign of Wolfe’s respect, a treasured inheritance, and a continuation of the legacy of American manufacturing.

To this day, Daylight Factory is dedicated to continuing their business in Michigan and carrying on the tradition of manufacturing in Detroit.

To this day, Daylight Factory is dedicated to continuing their business in Michigan and carrying on the tradition of manufacturing in Detroit.


In creating these truly evergreen displays, Daylight Factory worked closely with the New York-based visual marketers Arsenal and the design team at Shinola, led by VP of Creative Design Ruthie Underwood. Standing between 10 and 15 feet tall, each Holiday Tree is crafted from an impressive amount of excess leather, cut into leaf shapes, stitched around the perimeter and hung to the main tree frame.

Thanks to the flexible cutting platform of Brouhard’s CNC machine, the intricate shape of the leaves and their sheer number proved no problem.

Brouhard worked with a Daylight Factory staff member and former College for Creative Studies student to complete the design work. As a teacher at CCS, Brouhard enjoys and takes pride in continuing the chain of education, mentorship, and training.

Some of the liability leather used was familiar to Brouhard, as it was purchased during his tenure at Shinola. Often, tanneries require large purchase orders even in early design stages. This beautiful, high-quality leather might not make it to the next round of design, or there may be extra pieces leftover from the manufacturing order. Last year, Shinola commissioned Daylight Factory to create holiday ornaments and stockings with this excess. The brand is committed to finding new and beautiful ways to use every last inch.

“The next generation is really interested in and behind the push for sustainability,” notes Brouhard. “It’s great to see this leather taken out of the waste stream, creatively developed, and turned into something entirely new.”

Learn more about Daylight Factory at dlfctry.com. Experience our collaborative Holiday Tree installations at these Shinola locations: Woodward, Somerset, Canfield Flagship, Ann Arbor, Boston, Dallas Northpark, Chicago Rush Street, and the Shinola Hotel.

Get updates on products,
people and places we love.

Follow Us On Social